USC Begins 3-Game Homestand With No. 14/21 Minnesota
Dec. 7, 2012
USC (3-5) will host No. 14/21 Minnesota (9-1) at the Galen Center on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. USC is beginning a stretch with six out of the next seven games at home, after playing at the Galen Center once in the last six games. USC is 2-1 at home this season.
TROJANS TAKE ON No. 14/21 MINNESOTA -- Minnesota's lone loss this season was to No. 2 Duke at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Golden Gophers are coming off an 88-64 home win vs. South Dakota State on Dec. 4 and have won five straight games. Minnesota has four players averaging double figures in scoring in Rodney Williams (12.9), Andre Hollins (13.7), Austin Hollins (12.1) and Joe Coleman (10.6) and has averaged winning by 20 points in its nine victories. USC lost 55-40 at Minnesota last season and trails in the all-time series, 2-3. USC last played Minnesota in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, 1980, a 74-67 setback.
TROJANS' LATE COMEBACK AT NEW MEXICO FALLS SHORT -- USC trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half, but rallied to cut the lead to five and missed on two opportunities to make it closer and New Mexico hung on for a 75-67 victory on Dec. 5 at "The Pit" in Albuquerque, N.M. The Lobos ran their home record to 82-10 over the last six seasons. USC held the lead for much of the first half, but foul trouble to the Trojans' guards shifted the momentum and UNM finished the first half on a 25-6 run to take a 43-34 lead into the break. USC shot over 50 percent (52.9) for the first time this season, but UNM hit 51.9 percent of its shots, including 45.8 percent from three-point range (11-for-24) to hold the Trojans at bay. Eric Wise led USC with 14 points.
UC RIVERSIDE ON DECK -- USC will host UC Riverside (2-7) at the Galen Center on Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. USC defeated UCR 56-35 at Riverside on Nov. 30 last season, USC's last road win. USC leads the all-time series with the Highlanders, 5-0. Junior forward Chris Harriel (11.4) and freshman forward Josh Fox (10.0) lead UCR in scoring.
TAKE ABOUT A STRONG SCHEDULE... -- USC's schedule is one of the toughest in the country, currently ranked No. 12 by CBSSportsline, and the Trojans are in the midst of going through one of the hardest stretches. In the seven-game stretch which began vs. Illinois on Nov. 19 in Maui and ends Dec. 8 vs. Minnesota, USC is playing four teams that are currently ranked in the top 20 (No. 13 Illinois, No. 17 San Diego State, No. 18 New Mexico and No. 14 Minnesota) and the seven teams have a composite record of 50-9. Only two of the seven games in that stretch are home games.
RAINING THREES IN THE FIVE LOSSES -- In USC's five losses this season, the opposition has made 46 of 95 three-pointers for a 48.4 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. In the last three games, all losses, USC allowed San Diego State to make 7 of 15, Nebraska to make 11 of 17 and New Mexico to make 11 of 24 three-pointers for 29 out of 56 (51.8 percent).
FUNNY MATH... -- USC has made seven more field goals that its opponents this season, yet has been outscored by 26 points. USC's opponents have made 64 three-pointers to the Trojans' 39 and have made 15 more free throws.
HOPEFULLY A GOOD SIGN -- USC has struggled shooting the ball this season making 41.5 percent of its shots, but showed signs of coming out of its slump by making 45 percent in the second half at Nebraska and then 52.9 percent in the game at New Mexico. In the four full games prior to the UNM game, USC had a combined 36.1 shooting percentage (84-for-233) after making 45.6 percent of its shots in the first three games (77-for-169).
BOOST FROM THE BENCH -- Coming off a season where the Trojans were playing most of the second half of their season with just six available scholarship players, the depth of the 2012-13 team really stands out. In the first eight games of the season, USC has scored 25.1 percent of its points (129 of 514) and has 31.3 percent of its rebounds (76 of 243) from players coming off the bench (minus deadball rebounds). USC's non-starters also played 29.9 percent of the game (486 of the 1625 minutes). After eight games, USC's bench has been outscored 129-140 with most of that coming from being outscored 33-10 by Marquette's reserves on Nov. 21.
REBOUNDS ON THE REBOUND -- After being outrebounded in 26 of 32 games last season, including the final 18 contests of the 2011-12 season, USC has won the battle of the boards in four of the first eight games this season. USC is 3-1 when outrebounding the opposition and 0-4 when losing the battle of the boards. USC's leading rebounder has been forward Dewayne Dedmon who had a career-best 12 rebounds vs. Coppin State and has averaged 7.6 rebounds per game.
SLOW STARTERS -- USC has been outscored 287-230 in the first half, while winning the second halves and overtime by a combined score of 284-253. USC has shot 39.9 percent in the first half (87-for-218) and 42.9 percent in the second half of games (99-for-231) and that is after making 58.3 percent in the first half at New Mexico. USC has also gotten to the free throw line 26 more times in the second half. USC has also been outrebounded by 21 in the first half of games, while owning a 15-rebound edge in the second half. The same can be said about the turnover category where USC has 58 in the first half of games and 45 in the second half. USC's leading scorer J.T. Terrell has scored 7.8 points per game in the second half and 4.3 points per game in the first half. The biggest descrepancy is on the defensive side, where USC has allowed opposition teams to shoot 49.3 percent in the first half (103-for-209), including a 51.4 percentage from three-point range (38-for-74), while holding them to a 37.3 FG percentage (76-for-204) and a 34.2 3-point FG percentage (26-for-76) in the second half and overtime of games.
IT'S WISE TO DIVERSIFY -- USC redshirt senior Eric Wise has been a stat-sheet stuffer, ranking among the Trojans' leaders in most categories while averaging 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Among USC players through the first eight games, he ranks first in field goals made (35) and steals (11), second in points (87) and rebounds (46), third in assists (13), tied for third in free throws made (15) and fourth in blocks (3). Wise has been USC's leading scorer in five of the eight games.
ASSISTS KEEP POURING OUT OF THE FONTAN -- USC redshirt senior point guard Jio Fontan has averaged 5.3 assists per game this season, third among Pac-12 players. In the past four games he has dished out 24, with nine assists in both the game vs. Marquette on Nov. 21 and at home vs. San Diego State on Nov. 25. Fontan sat out all of last season due to a torn ACL. In 24 games for USC in the 2010-11 season, he averaged 3.9 assists and 10.5 points.